The National Gallery of Parma houses over 700 works from the Middle Ages to the late twentieth century. Beginning in the impressive Teatro Farnese and continuing in the rooms of the Palazzo della Pilotta, the tour offers a fascinating look at masters of Italian and European art from Benedetto Antelami, architect of the Baptistery of Parma, Beato Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci, Correggio and Parmigianino to El Greco and Canaletto, right up to Renato Guttuso.
Once the city’s main apothecary shop, l’Antica Speziera di San Giovanni Evangelista is a fascinating and evocative place where you can still admire the stills, retorts and chemists’ jars used by the monks for processing medicinal herbs and the preparation of ancient medicines.
The charm of the frescoes by Correggio and the originality of his illusionism make the Camera di San Paolo one of the greatest masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. Although it has always attracted visitors and distinguished scholars from all over the world, its meaning still remains mysterious.
On the first floor of Palazzo della Pilotta a monumental doorway in painted wood surmounted by a ducal crown leads us to the Farnese Theatre: a spectacular setting still redolent of the memory of the sumptuous life at the court of the Farnese dukes. Almost completely destroyed by bombs in 1944 and rebuilt in modern times, the theatre exemplifies some of the most exceptional theatre architecture of the seventeenth century.